Ends: Rob Burnett, Ravens, and Hugh Douglas, Eagles. Burnett, who stands firm against the run, is the unsung hero of a mighty defense. Douglas keyed a relentless unit with 15 sacks.
Tackles: La'Roi Glover, Saints, and Warren Sapp, Bucs. Glover led the league with 17 sacks. His game is built on quickness and penetration, but he's also a precise technician against the run. Though Sapp wore down a bit toward the end, he was still the Tampa Bay player who was constantly double-teamed.
Outside linebackers: Derrick Brooks, Bucs, and Keith Mitchell, Saints. Brooks is the king of the coverage linebackers. Mitchell, who usually moves into a rush position on passing downs, is an opportunist who always seems to be in on the play.
Middle linebacker: Ray Lewis, Ravens. He started the season slowly but rose to a frenzy in crunch time, both as a run plugger and as a coverage guy.
Comerbacks: Charles Woodson, Raiders, and Patrick Surtain, Dolphins. Woodson's terrific closing speed makes him a risky player to throw deep against. Surtain was less spectacular than his gambling teammate, fellow corner Sam Madison, but he was sturdier in coverage.
Strong safety: Pat Tillman, Cardinals. My sleeper of 2000. While he's not blazingly fast, Tillman is always around the ball and he's smart in coverage.
Free safety: Shaun Williams, Giants. He's the biggest hitter among all free safeties. Terrific in run support, and he developed range this year, too.
Kicker: David Akers, Eagles. Almost all kickers have gaudy percentage figures, but I judge them on how they did in crunch time. Two of his field goals came in overtime, and a third beat the Redskins with three minutes left.